Saturday, January 26, 2013

Women in Combat

The Pentagon this week removed restrictions from women serving in combat.

Insofar as this is a recognition that there are no front lines for an occupying army fighting a counterinsurgency, and therefore all troops are at risk, then the Pentagon's decision merely acknowledges what has been reality for the last decade. 

However, it is another matter entirely to suggest that this decision should allow women into combat units like infantry and special forces.

First, why are there no women playing against men in the National Football League or the National Hockey League?  Is it perhaps because they would get knocked down and trampled with relative ease?  Then we should think twice before letting women into an infantry fight.

This week on television I listened to a retired fleet admiral talk about how great a female pilot did, and therefore combat occupational specialties like infantry and special forces should be opened to G.I. Jane.  I also listened to a retired female Air Force pilot make a similar argument, that she finished a triathlon faster than many men did, and therefore she should be allowed into a combat unit.  These points are wholly irrelevant.  Go prove yourself in the NFL or NHL first, before you risk getting our infantryman and special operators killed.

But put the entire argument about physical strength and endurance aside.  There is a more important reason not to allow women into infantry and special forces, and it is barely ever mentioned.

When women and men serve together in close quarters over long periods, it is inevitable that romantic relationships develop.  It is human nature.  There is nothing wrong with this, except that political correctness demands we ignore human nature.  The problem is that romantic relationships, or even a romantic attraction that is not acted upon or returned, undermines good order and discipline within a combat unit.  Favoritism by any leader at any level, or even the appearance of or suspicion of favoritism, destroys unit morale and cohesion.   

For combat units to be effective under the worst conditions imaginable, for leaders to be trusted by their soldiers to show no favoritism when it comes time to choose which soldier must walk point into the minefield, there can be no possibility of romantic entanglements.  The chain of command must operate without distraction and without being questioned. 

Women can serve in combat.  They can fly aircraft, drive ships, serve on the ground in many occupations -- but they must not serve in infantry or special forces.  The relatively few armies that allow women into infantry units (and some, like Israel, only let that occur in reserve units in the rear) are often pointed to as examples for us to follow.  But put their infantry alongside ours, and guess who always performs better in the field? 

We do.  Let's keep it that way.     

David Mamet deconstructs Communism and Gun Control

... and you thought he was just a playwright:

Friday, January 25, 2013

..... What Difference Does It Make?

The fight lasted 7+ hours.

US airpower was available, and less than an hour away.

Why was no help sent?

*  *  *

Hillary Clinton's dodgy testimony

Tribune Media Services
4:30 a.m. CST, January 25, 2013
A lot of people in Washington apparently forgot how good Hillary Clinton is at not telling the truth.

Wednesday, in her testimony before both the Senate and, later, the House, Clinton brilliantly fudged, dodged and filibustered. Of course, she's a pro. Clinton was slow-walking depositions, lawyering up and shifting blame when many of her questioners were still civilians down on the farm.
Aided by a ridiculous format, she outfoxed most of the Republicans with ease.

Meanwhile, the Democrats, almost uniformly, seemed singularly interested in celebrating Mrs. Clinton as a global diva who somehow manages to carry the burden of her awesomeness with humility and grace. If smoking were still allowed in the Capitol, one could easily imagine her removing a cigarette from a gold case, tapping it nonchalantly on the witness table, and the entire Democratic caucus leaping over their desks for the chance to light it for her.

The most dramatic moment came early, when Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson tried to get Clinton to explain why the State Department blamed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi on an impromptu protest over an anti-Muslim video. In a rehearsed moment of spontaneous outrage, Clinton yelled back, "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?"

It is a measure of Clinton's cult-like status on the left and among much of the press that this passed for a satisfactory, never mind impressive, response. But it's also a tribute to Clinton's gift for mendacity that it worked so well.

Even among the administration's harshest critics, people seemed at a loss to fully explain what difference it makes whether the administration's spin was true or not. For many, the answer is simply that government officials shouldn't lie. That's a necessary criticism, but hardly sufficient.

But just to be clear, Clinton lied and is still lying. When asked about the claim that the attack was sparked by a protest over a video, she responded, "I did not say ... that it was about the video for Libya."

That's simply untrue. When she stood by the caskets of the four Americans killed in Libya, she directly blamed an "awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with." Afterward, she reportedly told the father of Tyrone Woods, the former Navy SEAL who was killed in the attack, "We will make sure the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted." Why tell the man that if the video had nothing to do with it?

Moreover, Clinton was part of an administration that crafted an entire PR strategy to blame these attacks on "an awful Internet video." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was unequivocal: This was a "response to a video, a film we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting." In his address to the United Nations, President Obama mentioned the video six times but al-Qaeda once. When he appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman," he blamed the video directly. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on five Sunday shows blaming the video. All of this happened when they already knew it was not true on the day of the attack, and even the president of Libya publicly called the protest explanation ridiculous.

But again, the lying, while outrageous, is incidental to the real offense, which is twofold. First, why did the administration lie? Well, it wanted to conceal its utter failure to prepare for terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 -- which is like being surprised by Christmas falling on Dec. 25. Also, the Obama administration, by which I mean the Obama campaign, was desperate to protect its hyped record of fighting terrorism. A "spontaneous" attack invited not by the administration's shortcomings but by some nutty video was just the ticket.

Indeed, on this score, Clinton was true to her word. While none of the murderers have been apprehended, the filmmaker is in jail, the picture of his arrest splashed across the globe.

Which brings us to the second part: the nature of the lie. Remember, not all lies are equally harmful. In this case, the U.S. government responded to the murder of four Americans by treating our constitutional rights as part of the problem. A former teacher of constitutional law, Obama was happy to watch the country argue new limits on free expression and the necessity of giving bloodthirsty savages and terrorists a heckler's veto on what Americans can do or say.

Clinton was in on that lie, and that makes all the difference in the world.

(Jonah Goldberg is the author of the new book "The Tyranny of Clichés." You can write to him in care of this newspaper or by e-mail at, or via Twitter @JonahNRO.)